The Surfrider Foundation and Plastic Pollution Coalition have released the Global Plastic Laws Database, a platform meant to support the implementation of the UN Plastics Treaty by visualizing plastic legislation passed around the world.
The database documents present legislation across the full plastics life cycle, also organizing policies according to life cycle phases and key topics. Categories include maritime sources, microplastics, waste management, and producer responsibility, to name a few.
The platform’s dataset includes input from approximately 115 countries and was collected in collaboration with multiple partner organizations. Individuals with native language knowledge and local networks collected information, ensuring accurate and timely legislative data.
According to the Surfrider Foundation, the database is meant to be used by policymakers, organizations, and advocates working to design effective policies that address the full lifecycle of plastics. It may also serve as a valuable resource for a wide range of audiences, including businesses, students, educators, researchers, and humanitarian groups planning disaster response.
In particular, the organizations aim for the database to be used during development of the UN Plastics Treaty, an international policy for plastic regulation which is set to be made into a legally binding agreement by the end of 2024.
Plastic Pollution to Increase Without Policy Measures, Database Suggests Legislation for Full Plastic Cycle
The UN considers single-use plastic pollution to be a global crisis. Up to 12 million tons of plastics are swept into oceans each year, and many plastics erode into microplastics that are found in the global food chain and therefore in most humans.
According to UNEP, the total social and economic costs of plastic pollution total about $300 billion to $600 billion each year, and research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has found that without radical action to curb demand, plastic pollution will nearly triple by 2060.
At the second meeting of the UN Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution, around 135 of the 180 states in attendance called for binding global rules that would apply to all countries equally in order to reduce plastic pollution and its accompanying environmental and health hazards.
The new plastics database recognizes the all-encompassing presence of plastics in the global economy and emphasizes the need for legislation in all phases of the plastics life cycle. Examples of legislation documented by the platform include the EU’s law restricting the intentional addition of microplastics into products and Togo’s guidelines for creating and managing biodegradable bags and packaging.
Once a global plastic treaty is established, the database is intended to track and monitor its implementation worldwide.